Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 (NASB)
Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses and Elijah were men of old who had very unusual relationships with God. The most significant couple in the Bible is Adam and Eve. You would think they had a close friendship with God, but the Bible never says that about Adam. The Bible tells us that Abraham was the friend (James 2:23) of God, not Adam. The Bible never tells us Adam and Eve saw God, but it does tells us that they heard the “sound of the LORD God walking in the garden” (Gen. 3:8). About 622 years later Adam saw Enoch who would later not see death because he pleased God (Gen. 5:24; Heb 11:5). Elijah did not see death either, because God took him to heaven in a “chariot of fire” (2 Kings 2:11). Would you like to have that kind of relationship with God!
Of all the men, it was Moses who spoke to God as a friend speaks to friend. It is Moses who spoke to God face-to-face and mouth-to-mouth. Listen to the words of God,
And it came about, whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the LORD would speak with Moses . . . the LORD [spoke] to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. Exodus 33:9, 11 (NASB)
Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Numbers 12:5-8 (NASB)
This is the heart passion of many Christians – to speak with God face-to-face. Moses spoke to God mouth-to-mouth but he did not see God. The Hebrew expression “face-to-face” in Ex 33:11, according to the Jewish rabbis, does not mean that Moses actually saw God’s face but that he saw God’s presence. Moses spoke with God “face-to-presence.” Ex. 33:20-23 records the words of God to Moses where Moses is told that he could not see God’s face for “no man can see Me and live.” But Moses was allowed to see God’s presence.
John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12 tell us that no man has seen God at anytime. 1 Timothy 6:16 gives us a hint as to why no man has ever seen God and why no man can ever see Him. He is light (1 John 1:5) He clothes Himself in light (Ps 104:2). He dwells in unapproachable light. Yes, He is invisible (Col 1:15) but He is light. We are told that even the cherubim cover their faces in His presence.
Pure In Heart
Jesus’ Jewish listeners must have really been shocked at His remarkable statement that they could see God. What did the Gentiles think? It is your guess.
Did they understand what it meant to be “pure in heart”? Our English Bible leaves something out because the Greek word, kathapos, for “pure” has the idea of 100% clean. The word was sometimes used to refer to wheat that had all the chaff removed. It was also used to describe a body of soldiers purged of cowards. A wonderful example of kathapos is the healing of a leper in Matthew 8:2-3. Matthew tells us that a leper pleaded to be made clean, kathapos, and Jesus made him kathapos. Jesus removed the disease from his body. This is Jesus’ idea of a pure heart – a heart purged from sin.
He is not talking about being clean on the outside. The Pharisees were religiously clean on the outside and Jesus had ugly words for them (Matthew 23:25-27). To Jesus’ disciples, He said,
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. John 15:3 (NIV)
We are clean when we believe God – when we are constantly depending on Him – when we are constantly committing ourselves to Him by faith. It is then that we have clean hearts (Acts 15:9). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus repeatedly tells the crowd it is not the outside that counts with God, but it is the inside. The beatitudes deal with the inside, our inside feelings and attitudes. In Matthew 5:20, Jesus will tell the crowd that their holiness must be better than the holiness of their spiritual leaders. In Matthew 5:21-48, Jesus will say that it is possible to commit murder and adultery in our hearts. In Matthew 6, our hearts need to be willing to give money to others, forgive others, submit ourselves to God in prayer, serve Him and trust Him. Is your heart pure? Do you want to be God’s friend?
Why did Jesus talk about the outside so much when the inside is what He is really interested in? The answer is found in Matt 15:17-20. The answer is that the outside conduct reveals the disease on the inside. How is your heart?
If you are a Christian today, God has forgotten about your sins because He has said,
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow . . .” Isaiah 1:18 (NIV)
Christians have pure hearts ONLY because God has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12). If you are not a Christian, your heart can be made clean if you will ask God to spiritually clean your heart – just like the leper pleaded to made clean.
Some day Christians will see God face-to-face,
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NASB)
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart . . . (NASB) Psalm 24:3 (NASB)
Until we see God face-to-face, and until we speak to Him mouth-to-mouth, and even though we are forgiven, we still sin. Until then, Jesus wants our outside to look as pure day-to-day as He has made our inside. You may say, “How do I do that?” Listen to 2 Chronicles 12:14,
And he did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD. 2 Chronicles 12:14 (NASB)
Why did he do evil? He did not seek God. Christian! Are you seeking God?
Heart – The Greek word for heart is kardia. It does not always refer to the physical organ that we call the heart. The Greek word for heart sometimes referred to the seat of life, the seat of our feelings, desires and passions. It was also the seat of thought and understanding as well as the seat of the will. The heart was the real person: emotions, will and intelligence.
Emotions – Some of the best verses in the Bible that show the heart included the emotions are as follows:
Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything.” Deuteronomy 28:47 (NKJV
My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, That I may answer him who reproaches me. Proverbs 27:11 (NKJV)
Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear!” Isaiah 35:4 (NKJV)
Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. Acts 14:17 (NKJV)
Intellect – The heart also included the mind in Jewish and Greek thought. This is obvious in:
So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” Genesis 27:41 (NKJV)
And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts . . . Mark 2:6 (NKJV)
Will – When we understand that the will was also part of the heart,
A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil . . .” Proverbs 6:18 (NKJV)
At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. Jeremiah 3:17 (NKJV)
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Daniel 1:8 (NKJV)
We see that the heart really referred to the whole person.
So when Jesus talks about a pure heart, he is talking about a pure life. Pure actions, a pure thought life and pure emotions. What a joy to know that our sinful emotions, will and thoughts are forgotten by God. Forgotten as far as the east is from the west. Jesus considers us to have pure emotions, a pure will and pure thoughts. What a joy!